MAY 7, 2019 – Voters across the state of Oregon oppose a weakening of sentencing requirements for violent juvenile offenders that would grant parole hearings and possible release for some, a new survey shows.
The survey shows that 54% of voters overall oppose Senate bill 1008, which would overturn parts of Measure 11, a 1994 measure passed by voters to create minimum sentences for violent offenses committed by juveniles. Another 25% said they supported SB 1008, while 21% were unsure. Democrats were split on the question, with 39% opposing changes to Measure 11 and 37% supporting them, but 72% of Republicans were against watering down the sentencing requirements of Measure 11. among unaffiliated voters, 56% were opposed to weakening the sentencing laws.
It is possible that Kip Kinkel, the infamous Lane County killer who in 1998 murdered his two parents, then killed two more and injured 25 at Thurston High School, could be released on parole under this new Senate bill. Considering this possibility, 61% of respondents in the poll said this fact alone was enough for them to oppose SB 1008, the poll shows. The prospect of a Kinkel release especially moved Democrats against weakening the sentencing requirements of Measure 11, as 50% of Dems would oppose SB 1008, knowing it could result in Kinkel’s release.
A majority of voters also said that knowing that moneyed interests from outside Oregon were behind the weakening of Measure 11 would make them more likely to oppose such efforts, the survey showed. Informed that outside interest groups, including the Koch brothers, are often behind such efforts, 54% said they would be more likely to be opposed to such a change in sentencing requirements. A majority of both Democrats and Republicans agreed on this position, while a powerful plurality of unaffiliated voters felt the same way.